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Soldier denies killing comrade in prank

The Local · 28 Sep 2011, 16:20

Published: 28 Sep 2011 16:20 GMT+02:00

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In a statement at the start of the soldier’s trial in the eastern German town of Gera, the prosecutor claimed he was aiming a P8 handgun at his comrade’s head when it accidentally fired a round. The incident happened inside a tent in an army outpost near the Afghan city of Pol-i Khomri in December 2010.

The prosecution’s case is based on witness statements and a technical report that apparently rules out the weapon misfiring.

The accused soldier claimed that the shot went off when he hit the bottom of the magazine because it had jammed. After it went off, the soldier said he threw the gun on a nearby bed and rushed to the injured man’s aid. His comrades then sent him out of the tent.

The soldier also denied that he had been playing a prank on the victim. He said he had pointed the gun at the door, and not realized that the victim had come in. “I was concentrating on my weapon,” he said.

At the time of the incident, the soldier said he had already spent two months at the camp, and was extremely tense because he had been assigned to go on a mission the next day. He added that the soldiers in the camp were under orders to carry a loaded weapon at all times.

A 20-year-old witness testified that the accused pointed the weapon at the victim’s head. “There was an unbelievable bang and fog in the tent,” he said, before describing how the accused’s face went pale as he walked to the bed and put the gun down, while someone else screamed.

The witness also said he did not notice the accused hitting the bottom of the magazine beforehand and that the handgun the army uses was very reliable if properly cared for. “It can only go off if I pull the trigger,” he said. He added that their instructions were not to use force if the gun was jammed, but to put the safety on and remove the magazine.

But the witness also added that constantly carrying a loaded gun round meant that many soldiers lost their respect for their weapons. He said many soldiers played games with their guns, despite instructions not to.

Story continues below…

Another witness confirmed that soldiers occasionally indulged in gun-play, and often took photos of each other posing with the weapons pointed at each other.

The accused was discharged from the army in March and is currently in training to be a mechanic.

DAPD/The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:00 September 28, 2011 by raandy
I doubt that his story will be believed., never the less he was put in harms way by his country, terrible and sad for all concerned.
17:10 September 28, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Unfortunately, this young man is responsible for the consequences of his actions, not matter if it was gun-play or not. The question is how much of a consequence he has to face up to, which is a matter for the courts.

Now, to another point. Does this story convey a lack of training on the part of the Bundeswehr? He pointed the gun, if indeed it was jammed, towards the door of the tent/shelter. Doing that would have but others in danger. Instead, he should have point it downwards and away from others, including himself. Was this due to a lack of training or self-discipline?
17:32 September 28, 2011 by raandy
finanzdoktor that is a good point about training.

Having been in the military myself, you never pointed a weapon at anyone unless you intend to use it , nor in his situation due you chamber a round.

I think you assessment about training and discipline is on the mark,
17:59 September 28, 2011 by Dogs_Gonads
When the Army says 'loaded weapon'.What they mean is, the gun has a magazine fitted with live ammo.

When the gun has a live round chambered it is called 'make read'.

To 'make ready' you have to fit a live mag first and THEN physically cock the weapon to chamber a round in the breach.

I do not believe for a second that the Bundeswehr allows their soldiers to walk around with a weapon that has a round chambered in the breach. No effing way.
18:00 September 28, 2011 by auslanderus
Everyone knows that you always have to think the weapon is loaded at all times. To use a weapon with no respect is stupid and thats when people get killed. Maybe better training would help but it's to late for this young man that died. Why didn't his fellow comrades say something to him about his handeling of his weapon?
19:33 September 28, 2011 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Total horsecrap.

1) Gun was cocked?

2) Safety was off while trying to fix a jam??

3) Pointing it at a tent while trying to fix a jam???

4) I want to see a G36 jam that bad. It's next to impossible. H&K has put 25,000 rounds through that weapon without cleaning, and it didn't jam. I'm sure a little Afghan dust isn't going to do much worse to it. Maybe a jam on the ejection port, or maybe a failure to feed. But there is no way that gas system jammed up with a live round in the chamber.

Idiot shot his brother in arms, and now he's trying to get away from it.
21:04 September 28, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Here's a good point for the prosecution to bring up during the trial (found it on the Internet about HK P8's):

"Abuse and function-testing of USPs have seen more than 20,000 rounds of .40 S&W fired without a component failure. Milspec environmental tests were conducted in high and low temperatures, in mud, immersed in water and in salt spray. In one particular test, a bullet was deliberately lodged in the barrel and another bullet was fired to clear the obstruction. The barrel was successfully cleared with only minor structural deformation and continued to produce consistent groups when test fired for accuracy."
09:02 September 29, 2011 by moistvelvet
As others have said, his weapon handling drills were poor, you "never point a weapon at someone in jest". To anyone properly trained it is second nature never to do that, obviously he was given too many hugs in training and not enough discipline, the result being someone is dead.
13:25 September 29, 2011 by ECSNatale
Every element of this story makes me sad. I am sorry for all involved.
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